And in the end, the love Paul McCartney took from his nearly three-hour concert Saturday at Target Field was equal to the adulation at July’s All-Star Game and any other event the Twins’ four-year-old ballpark has seen.
“He’s a sure home run,” said Tom Degannaro of Lino Lakes, a lifelong fan who — along with his wife and teenage daughter — was among the first of the roughly 40,000 concert attendees to arrive to the stadium. “It’s about time he played another outdoor show here again.”
The last time McCartney performed outside in Minnesota was when his old group the Beatles — ever heard of them? — tried to play over screaming teenage fans at Met Stadium in Bloomington in 1965.
Hardly just a baby boomer act, Sir Paul is still drawing teen fans to his shows, but under remarkably different circumstances. Gavin Bunnell of New Prague, 14, discovered his music when he received the video game “Beatles: Rock Band” for his 12th birthday.
“By the end of the first day of playing it, I was just obsessed with every one of the songs,” said Bunnell, attending his first-ever concert. Quipped his mom Amy Hovel, “Nothing like starting out big.”
Last seen in town at Xcel Energy Center in 2005 — his local average is just over one show per decade, with six concerts total now — McCartney was the first, major rock act to play Target Field, after two sold-out shows by country star Kenny Chesney and the smaller Skyline Music Fest. He is also now the only rocker to perform at all three of the Twins’ ballparks, counting a solo show at the Metrodome in 1993.
McCartney, 72, took the giant stage in center field wearing a bright blue suit that looked more Brewers than Twins team colors, but it didn’t stay on long anyway.
“That’s my only wardrobe change of the night,” he cracked after removing the jacket a few songs into his set, which opened with “Eight Days a Week.” Within the first half-hour, he covered three of the five decades of his career, also including “All My Loving,” the “Wings”-era rocker “Let Me Roll It” and his topical new song “Save Us.”
During his sound check around 5 p.m. — which drew an early crowd that listened from outside the gates to the likes of “Drive My Car” and “Matchbox” — he also alluded to the muggy weather. “Turn down the heat,” was his only instruction to his crew.
While there were no complaints about McCartney from fans during the show, things did get heated over the long lines to get through Target Field’s new metal detectors — and even longer lines to get to the field, where a special wristband had to be handed out one-by-one.
“I’m fuming, when I should be all Beatles-y peace and love,” complained Nancy Frank of St. Paul, who said it took her group nearly an hour to finally make it to their seat.
At least she got in. Hundreds of fans stood outside the gates listening to the show there, many of whom struck out trying to score a cheap last-minute ticket. Originally priced $36.50 to $250, seats were averaging above $250 at the resale site Stubhub.com earlier in the day.
Now the Twins grounds crew is wondering what price the playing field paid. About 8,000 seats were spread out on rubber padding laid over the grass.
“It’s been a much better process than the last couple,” said Twins groundskeeper Larry DeVito, referring to the Chesney concerts. However, DeVito’s crew will have pulled off a quicker turnaround, since the Twins have an interleague game Tuesday against the Padres. “It’s about as tight as we can do it, but I think we’ll do fine,” DeVito said.
Hardly concerned about the condition of the grass, super-Macca fan Amanda Wirig, 34, of Mankato, said she’s worried the concert could be the rock legend’s last time in Minnesota, given the age and the infrequency of his prior appearances.
“He’s just been a constant thread in my life,” said Wirig, echoing another fan’s sign that caught McCartney’s eye near the stage read, “I’ve been growing with you for 50 years.”
Said Angie McCluskey, 58, of St. Cloud, who has seen him perform five previous times, “It just doesn’t get any bigger than this, and probably never will.”